Columbo is the largest city and capital of the island nation of Sri Lanka, it is a fascinating tropical blend of colonial buildings, busy streets and modern office buildings. Columbo also has an exciting local cuisine and plenty of restaurants to suit most budgets and tongues. The nightlife buzzes until the early hours which interests the youth, while there are many religious temples, parks and museums show a quieter side of the city to cater the calm side of people.
The beach at Mt. Lavinia is nearby and has beautiful, golden sands, a relaxed resort atmosphere and spectacular sunsets which fits in for the most relaxing environment for the people. Columbo has long been a trading city and offers a heady mixture of cultures and influences, creating a vibrant destination for its visitors. Book your tickets now to discover its treats for yourself.
Arabs settled in the area in 800 AD to boost their trading interests and then another great nation of traders, the Portuguese, arrived in 1505. Columbo was positioned on the main East-West trade route and has a fine natural harbour, it was known to ancient civilisations such as the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Chinese and Persians.Cinnamon was a hugely valuable spice and was one of the main reasons for European and Arab interest in the area. The Dutch sided with the local king and ousted the Portuguese in 1656 and then the British took over in 1796. Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, gained independence in 1948.
The influence of these diverse cultures can still be seen in the city today, creating an interesting mix of architecture, clothing, customs and lifestyle. You can take a guided tour or explore the city by tuk-tuk, the little three-wheeled taxis that occupy the roads all over, PS-Do try to find a metered tuk-tuk though, as unmetered ones are invariably more expensive.
One must-see event is the elephant show at the zoo, held every day at 5:15pm. The city also makes an ideal base from which to explore not only attractions such as Adam's Peak, Arugam Bay Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage and Bolgoda Lake, but also the rest of Sri Lanka. As soon as you arrive in the city, you will realise that Colombo is a varied and captivating destination. It offers a great beach, superb natural beauty, a mix of cultures and a fascinating history. It is advisable to have a guided tour of the city to get the most detailed information about the city.
Gangaramaya Temple is right in the centre of the city by Beira Lake and is perhaps the city's most colourful temple. It also has a museum. Galle Face Green Promenade is the place to go to see stunning sunsets. You'll find lots of street vendors, food stalls and picnics. It is simply a vast grassy strip along the esplanade, but it is family friendly and a great place to stroll or people watch. You can also experience some open-air theatre at certain times of the year. Nature lovers will enjoy the Turtle Conservation Villa, which preserves and protects the native turtles.
Lakpahana is a non-profit store where local craftsmen can sell their wares and Barefoot offers the finest fabrics. The Pettah Market is the place to test your haggling skills and sells everything from food to electronics. Odel is a leading department store offering a similarly huge range of goods in a rather more sedate and stylish setting, while Crescat Boulevard is the city's upmarket shopping centre. Shoppers are in for a treat in Colombo as the city has a huge range of stores, markets and shopping centres, selling a dizzying variety of goods.
Green Cabin is the restaurant to go to for simple and inexpensive local food, while Seafood Cove offers a more upmarket option and the chance to eat glorious seafood on the beach and beneath the palm trees. You will find street stalls offering lunch packets of rice and vegetables all over Colombo. There are also hundreds of tiny bakeries selling egg, fish and vegetable rotis, local pancakes and other snacks. The Gallery Cafe is one of the city's finest restaurants and features an international menu. Try ‘Mango Tree’ for North Indian dishes.
The Sapumal Foundation celebrates the work of Sri Lankan artist Harry Pieris, and is located in the house where he used to live. Visitors can see his studio and materials along with an exhibition following the history of Sri Lankan art. The National Museum of Sri Lanka is the largest in the city and has fine exhibits from the time of the 17th century Kandyan kings. The Natural History Museum is the place to go to gain an understanding of the amazing Sri Lankan environment, while the Dutch Period Museum offers an insight into the time of Dutch colonial rule.
Music in the clubs can range from retro 80s to bang up to date dance music and the clubs stay open until 4am or even later. The beach area of Mount Lavinia is a popular nightlife spot and you'll find live music and DJs right on the beach. JoJo's Place is a quiet hangout, while Buba is rather more rousing. Elsewhere in Colombo, Amuseum, Kama, R&B and Silk are some of the leading nightclubs, while the Inn on the Green, Cheers, Rize Bar and Seven Degrees North are all popular bars.
Columbo is full of events that goes around the calendar a few of them are:
Saga Festival in February
In recent years, dance and drama have been added to the programme. Saga is a music festival organised by the Royal College of Colombo and is one of the city's most important cultural events.
Colombo Fashion Week in March
Fashion Week showcases more than 20 local designers with 25 shows across the week. They are joined by international designers and the Bright Sparks event highlights young and emerging designers which makes is so much intresting for all the fashionistas out there.
Sinhalese New Year in April
Also known as Aluth Avurudda, Sinhalese New Year celebrations take place in April. Whole families celebrate in the street with firecrackers and feasts making it an amazingly breathtaking experience.
International Book Fair in September
The book fair is hugely popular and attracts more than a million visitors and book lovers that runs over for nine days. There are lots of events and readings in what is the largest book event in South Asia.
Travelling prepared is always a good idea. That's why we have listed some useful tips for you below.
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